Imagine that you’ve finally found the time to watch that movie you’ve been dying to watch for ages. You’ve settled down with your popcorn and have the movie playing in full screen when suddenly, a notification pops up about mail you’ve received. No big deal—you can dismiss it once. But what if you had to do this about 5-7 times an hour? It isn’t really harmful but what it is, is extremely annoying, distracting and downright intrusive!
Granted—desktop notifications can be really useful and it wouldn’t be too far off the mark to say that they’re among the best features modern browsers have to offer. You can get a notification on everything from new mail to instant messages to even the score in that match you were following. This way, you’re not missing out on anything, which can turn out to be great when you receive important emails or your team just scored!
Well, if you want to shut out the noise, you can; all it takes is the disabling of notifications on Google Chrome—it’s that simple! If you’ve got the right extensions, you can keep the auto-playing videos and sign-up spam at bay.
Here’s a 101 on how to disable notifications in the Chrome browser.
Blocking Chrome Notifications
Real-time desktop/browser notifications can be helpful, as mentioned earlier. However, they aren’t all that helpful when you start receiving notifications from that website you visited all of once and that too, by mistake, because it was the first hit on your Google search. Even in such cases, websites will try to get you to let them send push notifications to your browser or desktop.
Thankfully, on Google Chrome, you can either block notifications from specific sites or all push notification requests that you receive, by following these steps:
- Open your Chrome browser.
- There’s a “More” icon, right at the top-corner-most point to the right of the browser. You can identify the icon by 3 vertical dots.
- From the drop-down menu that appears, click on ‘Settings’.
- Once the ‘Settings’ page opens, look for the ‘Advanced’ section. Scroll down to find it. Once you do, expand it.
- On expanding, you’ll get a detailed drop down of options. One of these options should be the ‘Privacy and Security’ section.
- In the said section, select ‘Content Settings’.
- Further, select ‘Notifications’.
- You’ll find the ‘Ask Before Sending’ switch/option. Toggle this to the off position; once you do this, the text will change and you’ll see the word ‘Blocked’.
Some users may already directly see the ‘Privacy and Security’ option on the menu to the left of the browser. If you do, click on it—you’ll be automatically redirected to the detailed menu that others have to find by scrolling down.
Once you’re redirected, you’ll see ‘Site Settings’. Clicking on this will take you to another page with a ton of ‘Permissions’ listed. Scroll down to find ‘Notifications’ and when you do, click on it to be led to the detailed notifications page. Here, you’ll find a toggle option next to the option of ‘Sites can ask to send notifications’. Toggle it to the off position to block notifications.
Allowing Particular Sites
If you want to allow notifications for a particular site or app, scroll right to the bottom of the ‘Notifications’ page and add the URL of the site whose notifications you want to allow (they’ll be grouped under the head ‘Allow’).
In case you’re receiving notifications anyway from a site you don’t want to hear from, go to the site in question, click on the 3-dots option while you’re on the site and click on ‘Remove’ to stop receiving notifications from the site.
Blocking Cookie Notifications on Google Chrome
Additionally, since mid-2018, the European Union has been enforcing the GDPR, which means that almost every website you visit will notify you about cookie usage. Though this notification is necessary to an extent, it can get super irritating to keep saying “I do” a million times! Luckily, Chrome has an “I don’t care about cookies” extension that keeps sites from asking you to do the whole “click-I-accept-and-close-notification” routine.
This free notification (though donations are accepted) supposedly removes all cookie notifications from a majority of the websites on the internet. The extension can get rid of various cookie-notification displays, such as—
- Those with “accept” and “decline” options
- Those that show up as overlays or pop-ups
- Those that have an “accept” button only
- Those that have a “close” option/icon only
- Those that appear in headers and footers of websites
In case a cookie notification does manage to fly under the radar and show up, you can still get rid of it by reporting it—all you have to do is click on the ‘Report a cookie warning’ in the options menu of the extension.
Remember, though cookie notifications are frustrating, sometimes, they’re important and shouldn’t always be dismissed without a second glance. These notifications contain information that helps site visitors understand how your personal data is collected, what is collected and why. Some sites also let you opt out of this. Therefore, seriously weigh your options; fully consider the risk of keeping out cookie notifications before you decide to install the extension.
Blocking Marketing Overlays on Google Chrome
Marketing overlays are those annoyingly clever pop-ups that don’t come up immediately on visiting a site; they appear once you’re halfway through the content or right in the middle of that flash sale. Sometimes, moving your cursor toward the omnibar can also trigger these notifications.
Examples include sites asking you to sign up for their newsletters to receive discount codes, or subscribing to a monthly plan and so on. You can recognize an outlay by a pop-up that suddenly appears, makes the background grey so you can’t even go ahead without some action on it, and always requires action to get rid of it.
Some outlays don’t even come with a “close” icon so you have to pick from the options stated in the pop-up. Simple enough, except the options representing “no” are almost always designed to make you feel bad and judged, such as “No, thanks—I’d rather not save money” or “No, thanks—I hate being smart” on magazine and newspaper subscriptions! When there is a “close” icon, you may end having to scroll through the entire page in search of an icon the size of an ant, by which time, you’ve lost 5 minutes and all your patience.
Thankfully, Chrome offers the Poper Blocker extension that helps you get rid of a majority of outlays that you have to face, even if it doesn’t get rid of all of them. It’s extremely effective on outlays such as:
- Corner-screen outlays that pop-up when you’re scrolling
- Those that show up when you navigate away from the page
- Those that show up on page load
In addition to blocking outlays, Popup Blocker also has other features that make dealing with outlays easier, such as getting rid of outlays that sneak through—right click the overlay, choose the ‘Remove Overlay’ option and wham! It’s gone. You can also permanently block the outlay from ever showing up again, even if you do visit the site many times after, by selecting the ‘Remove Always’ option.
Blocking Auto-Play Videos on Google Chrome
Remember those instances when you randomly scrolled through an article on Justin Bieber’s latest hit for absolutely no reason and the next day, when you’re on the train to work surfing through random sites, you land on one that starts an auto-playing video of exactly the same song you were randomly reading about!
Videos that play both or either audio and video automatically can be quite irritating, unnecessary and downright disturbing (Big Brother, much?). To add to that, they supremely slow down the speed at which your page loads.
To keep the auto-playing videos at bay, Chrome gives you the AutoplayStopper extension, a free extension that keeps away auto-playing videos on almost every site, from YouTube to The Washington Journal. If you want to allow specific auto-play videos, you can do that too—open the ‘Options’ menu on the extension and select the ‘Allow autoplay for “X” site’ option.
Blocking Paginated Articles on Google Chrome
You know those extremely annoying articles that show you the top 10 must-visit spots in the world, seducing you with those beautiful pictures and well-written text, only to have you click on one different link to read about each spot? Hello, pagination, also known as “how to make a 2-minute read into a 20-minute one”. A great way to develop on the patience quota, but mostly, a major waste of your time!
“Unrolling” pagination means that the extra pages are taken away, and instead, collated into one note. Evernote is an efficient and free Chrome extension that does this work for you. With the Evernote Web Clipper, you can save paginated articles you find on the net to the extension, which will then unroll and display the article as a single page.
Sure, navigating the app itself takes some getting used to, but even then, it won’t take nearly as long as going through the ordeal a paginated article presents. Additionally, you can even save the unrolled article for later or trash it.
Blocking Advertisements on Chrome
Over the years, websites have gotten smarter (or less annoying) and toned down on the number of advertisements that show up in site visitors’ faces. Where earlier these ads were crammed into every available byte/pixel on the site in the form of pop-unders, overs, up, downs—the whole deal—sites are more considerate these day and you won’t find as many advertisements annoying you (or seducing you, as the case may be!
Unnecessary online binge shopping, anyone?). However, some sites still employ the “cram as many ads as possible onto the page” strategy, slowing down browsing experience and being just plain irritating.
There are plenty of ad-blocking apps and extensions available to keep these ads at bay, such as the AdBlocker Ultimate, uBlock Origin (great for customizing), Ghostery (blocks trackers and ads) and AdBlock Plus, to name a few (though the latter can slow down your browsing experience). These extensions can block a host of things, from text ads to pre-roll ads to display ads.
However, if you do like the content or products on a particular site (we all have our indulgences), consider allowing ads from that site. Many sites depend on the revenue from these ads to continue operations. Instead of blocking, consider a paid subscription to a website, offering some form of monetary support or donating on Patreon.
There’s not much good that a majority of folks have to say about notifications—the general consensus is that they’re annoying, disruptive, distracting and intrusive. It can also surprise you how much your activities are being tracked by browsers across the world. However, notifications aren’t all bad. As mentioned, some of them can turn out to be useful—you should especially consider keeping cookie notifications on. And given the range of other annoying things that have literally cropped up on sites such as chatbots and customer support chats (which, thanks to the advent of technology, can’t even be blocked) notifications may be the lesser of two evils that you have to deal with.
That being said, following the steps listed in this article will definitely lower the number of encounters you have with notifications, letting you have a more peaceful browsing experience.
Lorenzo has been using the internet for as long as he can remember. He was there for the early days of message boards, he watched social media take over, and he’s excited to see what comes next.